Red Sox SS Hanley Ramirez
Many young Red Sox fans may forget that before Hanley Ramirez was a slugging first baseman who came over via free agency in 2015, he was a highly regarded five-tool prospect in the Sox system. Ramirez signed with Boston as a 16-year-old in 2000, and began to make waves in the 2002 season. The shortstop hit .371 in 22 games in Single-A Lowell, a remarkable achievement for an 18-year-old.
By 2005, it was clear Ramirez was ready for the big leagues. He entered the season as the number 10 prospect in all of baseball, and, despite being three years younger than the average player in Double-A, hit .271 and stole 26 bases in Portland. He was so impressive that the Red Sox added him to the major league roster in September despite never playing a game at Triple-A.
Alas, this is where the story takes an unexpected turn. Because the Red Sox were in the thick of the pennant race, Ramirez got just two plate appearances in the majors, both ending in strikeouts. Those would be the last at-bats he got in Boston for a decade, as he became the centerpiece of a deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to town and sent Ramirez down to Florida to become the new face of the franchise.
The deal would become a bittersweet one for the Red Sox and their fans. Yes, Lowell and Beckett did play crucial roles in the 2007 Championship run, Ramirez would become an MVP candidate down in Florida while the Red Sox would cycle through mediocre shortstops for the next half-decade.
The idea of prime Hanley Ramirez batting in front of Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and David Ortiz is a tantalizing one, but it will, unfortunately, remain just a hypothetical.